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Jammie Thomas May Face RIAA Trial Alone

Soulskill posted more than 5 years ago | from the suspicious-timing dept.

The Courts 143

NewYorkCountryLawyer writes "With her trial coming up on June 15th, Jammie Thomas has received a motion by her lawyer to withdraw from the highly publicized case, Capitol Records v. Thomas. Ms. Thomas said in a written declaration (PDF) obtained from her by her lawyer that she was not opposed to the lawyer's withdrawal, and waived any hearing on the matter. The court papers submitted by the lawyer (PDF) also indicated that the RIAA was not opposed to the withdrawal — i.e. it graciously consented to Ms. Thomas having no legal representation — but was opposed to any continuance (i.e. the RIAA wants to make sure that Ms. Thomas does not have sufficient time to find other legal representation, or to prepare to handle the trial herself, or to enable new counsel to prepare to handle the trial). Nice of them."

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Hmm (4, Interesting)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 5 years ago | (#27977375)

Bought off or warned off?

Re:Hmm (1)

arbiter1 (1204146) | more than 5 years ago | (#27977487)

i got 1000$ on bought off, but with a month she should be able to find someone or even see if EFF can help with some input

Re:Hmm (4, Interesting)

paganizer (566360) | more than 5 years ago | (#27977801)

I have to admit I'm sort of puzzled about this whole thing. I'm not a Lawyer, but I would happily offer to assist if I was; I've done loads of non-profit volunteer work. A lawyer friend in Nashville recently told me he would volunteer 80 hours to any RIAA case, if it was local.
They are HATED, and some of the people who hate them are Lawyers; there should be volunteers coming out of the woodwork.

Re:Hmm (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 5 years ago | (#27978831)

A lawyer friend in Nashville recently told me he would volunteer 80 hours to any RIAA case, if it was local.

Lawyer... friend? Told you, and you believed him?

The fact that nobody HAS stepped out of the woodwork yet suggests that, you know, nobody REALLY wants to get involved.

Re:Hmm (4, Interesting)

Maestro4k (707634) | more than 5 years ago | (#27979937)

They are HATED, and some of the people who hate them are Lawyers; there should be volunteers coming out of the woodwork.

I think the problem here may be that Jammie Thomas' case looks like a lost cause. As I recall the RIAA has said publicly that they'll have no problem proving actual infringement (they had Media Sentry actually download some files from Thomas' alleged share on Kazaa), there was a serious possibility that Thomas may have deliberately handed over a hard drive that wasn't the original one as well. And don't forget that the jury very obviously thought she was lying, they could have awarded only $750 a song damages, but they chose $9,250 a song.

While the RIAA is evil, Thomas isn't doing those who oppose the RIAA a favor by going to trial again. She's very likely to loose, and that'll set a precedent in the RIAA's favor.

It is pretty scummy of the RIAA to oppose a continuance though, but then again, we knew they were evil already so it's not surprising.

Re:Hmm (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27980275)

While the RIAA is evil, Thomas isn't doing those who oppose the RIAA a favor by going to trial again. She's very likely to loose, and that'll set a precedent in the RIAA's favor.

By my calculations you could have been on slashdot at least five years and its a text based forum. Have you never seen any messages pointing out the difference between loose and lose? I don't understand how you can continue to be such an ignoramus after all this time..

Get this folks: When you loose the dogs of war you cannot possibly lose the battle! That girl with loose morals will certainly lose her virginity!

And you just lost the game

Bad case (4, Insightful)

maroberts (15852) | more than 5 years ago | (#27977425)

I'm not terribly convinced Jammie Thomas is a great case to fight the RIAA with;

Have I misunderstood the paperwork? reading between the lines it appears her lawyer is withdrawing and he is concerned that he has information contradictory to the line of argument his client wants put forward, and as an officer of the court, money matters aside, he feels he cannot go on.

Re:Bad case (5, Interesting)

Lloyd_Bryant (73136) | more than 5 years ago | (#27977497)

I'm not terribly convinced Jammie Thomas is a great case to fight the RIAA with;

Have I misunderstood the paperwork? reading between the lines it appears her lawyer is withdrawing and he is concerned that he has information contradictory to the line of argument his client wants put forward, and as an officer of the court, money matters aside, he feels he cannot go on.

I read it differently. The motion is filed for in camera review, because it contains information that would be of use to the plaintiff, so he wants to keep it limited to just the judge. It's quite common for a lawyer to have information that contradicts his "official" stance in the case, so such information by itself probably wouldn't constitute a reason to withdraw.

It appears that money *is* the primary factor here. Jammie Thomas owes him a lot of money, and even though she's promised to make payments, he doesn't want to allow her to dig herself in deeper. He tried once before to withdraw from the case, but the court refused him permission to do so. This may have had something to do with his rather lackluster performance during the previous trial...

Re:Bad case (1)

DreamsAreOkToo (1414963) | more than 5 years ago | (#27977535)

It appears that money *is* the primary factor here. Jammie Thomas owes him a lot of money, and even though she's promised to make payments, he doesn't want to allow her to dig herself in deeper. He tried once before to withdraw from the case, but the court refused him permission to do so.

He's such a nice guy that he doesn't want to see her put herself into terrible debt, BUT he's not such a nice guy as to give her his services at an affordable rate?

Re:Bad case (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27977585)

He's a nice guy because so far he's done almost $130,000 worth of work on this case, for which he will never get paid for, as he mentions on page 3 this PDF file [beckermanlegal.com] .

He also says this:

"In its previous Order the Court noted "that the Defendant has offered to continue
to make regular, monthly payments to Toder, which evinces a good faith effort, on her
part, to make good on her debt to him
, and is also an indication that communications have
not, in fact, broken down between Toder, and his client, to such an extent as to warrant a
withdrawal." Order of August 31, 1997 (Dkt. No. 48). Please see Declaration of Brian
N. Toder filed concurrently (under seal) with the instant motion which demonstrate the
opposite.

So when he first tried to leave the case, it looks like the court said "No, she says she's gonna try to pay monthly sums, and you guys can work it out". Looks like she's not keeping her end of the bargain.

HAHAHAHA (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27978369)

He's a nice guy because so far he's done almost $130,000 worth of work on this case, for which he will never get paid for, as he mentions on page 3 this PDF file.

Please note that a lawyer "doing $130,000 of work" is exactly equivalent to the RIAA's claims of $200,000 damages when 20-odd CDs are copied.

I wrote over 5,000 lines of beautifully designed and fully tested code last month, that's easily "$100,000 of work". I'm sure my client will see the justice of it when I present the bill ...

Re:HAHAHAHA (4, Insightful)

NormalVisual (565491) | more than 5 years ago | (#27979149)

No, it's not. It's documented, billable time that Thomas' lawyer could have spent working on other cases that produced real income, that is now gone forever.

I don't agree with the way things are working out for Thomas, but don't dare say this lawyer hasn't incurred a very real loss.

Re:HAHAHAHA (1)

CarpetShark (865376) | more than 5 years ago | (#27980199)

don't dare say this lawyer hasn't incurred a very real loss.

Wouldn't the losing party pay if he won the case in that jurisdiction? If so, then he either would have gotten paid (if he won), or would not have deserved to be paid (if he lost).

Re:Bad case (1)

Lloyd_Bryant (73136) | more than 5 years ago | (#27977761)

He's such a nice guy that he doesn't want to see her put herself into terrible debt, BUT he's not such a nice guy as to give her his services at an affordable rate?

Who said anything about him being a nice guy? He doesn't want her to go deeper in debt to him, because he's not sure that he'll ever get paid...

Re:Bad case (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27978221)

Well, if this "toad" toder would not have confused his practice area Maritime law with what her problem was when she showed up in his office with a payment of 3k (or was it 5?) and said Hi Mr. Lawyer, I'm accused of "piracy", then maybe he would not have took the case in the first place!

His argument that the +100k sum will "never get paid" would of course only be true if he is not able to give the best for the defendant he happily took the first money from. Because other lawyers that were fighting well for their client did indeed got the money back!
Maybe "toad" toder should point out that he has no idea about piracy on the internets but only about piracy on the oceans(i.e. his practice area maritime law)!

Re:Bad case (2, Informative)

who knows my name (1247824) | more than 5 years ago | (#27977503)

Yes, I think you have, she can't afford to retain her lawyer. It is unlikely she is going to be able to pay $100,000 of lawyers fees.

Re:Bad case (1)

Ozlanthos (1172125) | more than 5 years ago | (#27980101)

I'd say that it is just as likely that he is looking at the RIAA's track record and saying to himself...."can I win against these guys given the slime-ball bs tactics they use"? and "Do I really want that loss on my record"??

-Oz

When your lawyer withdraws, you're probably guilty (1, Funny)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 5 years ago | (#27977437)

When your lawyer won't even stick around to see you get torn apart in the courtroom, perhaps it's time to cut a deal.

Re:When your lawyer withdraws, you're probably gui (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27977485)

Is that actually why the lawyer is withdrawing? Has he given a reason?

Otherwise it could be anything. Maybe he has bad case of rectal fissures and needs to be hospitalized.

Re:When your lawyer withdraws, you're probably gui (2, Insightful)

Manip (656104) | more than 5 years ago | (#27977519)

Only bad lawyers walk away from a guilty party just because of their guilt. Hell that's what corp. lawyers could paid in the millions for.

More than likely a financial, reputation, personal, or conflicting issue.

Re:When your lawyer withdraws, you're probably gui (1)

KillerBob (217953) | more than 5 years ago | (#27977929)

Believe it or not, ethical lawyers do exist. I've got some lawyer friends who won't take a case to defend a guilty party. It's got nothing to do with wanting a 100% win track record, and everything to do with feeling that it's wrong to get a guilty party off on a technicality.

Re:When your lawyer withdraws, you're probably gui (1)

addsalt (985163) | more than 5 years ago | (#27978189)

it's wrong to get a guilty party off on a technicality.

I can certainly understand the sentiment. I could see myself having a hard time working for someone who I thought was guilty of a heinous crime(if I was a lawyer), but the guilty party still needs representation.

The goal of an ethical lawyer defending a party should not be to try to find dishonest loopholes, but to ensure that the prosecuting party is playing by the rules.

Re:When your lawyer withdraws, you're probably gui (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27978809)

That's not being ethical. Even guilty people deserve legal represention.

Re:When your lawyer withdraws, you're probably gui (1)

mabhatter654 (561290) | more than 5 years ago | (#27979075)

exactly, the ethics of lawyering is to argue the best possible legal case for your client no matter what side they're on. The law changes relatively slowly, and the other side has access to all the same rules they need to be following.

After all, is the DA going to petition the court for "fair" sentencing or are they going to demand "throwing the book" even for a minor offense? Lots of poor kids sit in jail for years (and get convicted of inflated, harsher crimes) for something a good lawyer makes "probation" for somebody with even a little bit of money.

Re:When your lawyer withdraws, you're probably gui (0, Troll)

Q-Hack! (37846) | more than 5 years ago | (#27979691)

Lots of poor kids sit in jail for years (and get convicted of inflated, harsher crimes) for something a good lawyer makes "probation" for somebody with even a little bit of money.

Think of the children...

Bah... If they do the crime, they do the time. "fair" sentencing is a farce.

Sure, lets let the criminals back into society where they can rape, pillage, and murder again. ~

Re:When your lawyer withdraws, you're probably gui (5, Interesting)

NewYorkCountryLawyer (912032) | more than 5 years ago | (#27977651)

When your lawyer won't even stick around to see you get torn apart in the courtroom, perhaps it's time to cut a deal.

I'm sure she tried hard to do that. But what the RIAA has no doubt done is to raise the settlement bar to a number she can't afford. Partly out of retribution. Partly out of a desire not to see the case settle at this juncture, because, in its present posture, the case is an embarrassment to the RIAA and a stern rebuke to their moronic legal theory. Partly because they know she's defenseless, having either no lawyer or having a lawyer who's there only involuntarily.

I know these guys. This is how they work. They smell blood.

Re:When your lawyer withdraws, you're probably gui (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27977703)

Ray, I'm curious why you haven't said much at all as to why her lawyer might be withdrawing from the case. Aside from your customary, thinly-veiled swipes at the plaintiffs, I don't see anything addressing this. If her case is as strong as you have been implying consistently in your comments over the past months (and I think I've read every single one of them), it certainly seems odd that an attorney would bail on a slam-dunk case like this one. Surely there has to be another (more objective) explanation or two?

Thanks, /HJ

p.s. I'm not trying to be a troll, and I happen to dislike (and disagree with) the RIAA and their tactics as much as anyone else here. But it's equally hard for me to stomach an ostensibly neutral (in the sense of not being involved with this case), eminently qualified observer such as yourself constantly cheerleading for the defense, while giving no quarter whatsoever to the possibility that the opposing side's arguments might have at least some merit.

Re:When your lawyer withdraws, you're probably gui (5, Insightful)

NewYorkCountryLawyer (912032) | more than 5 years ago | (#27977739)

I'm not trying to be a troll, and I happen to dislike (and disagree with) the RIAA and their tactics as much as anyone else here. But....

I suspect you are a troll, but...

1. He is leaving because he hasn't been paid.

2. I have never expressed any opinion about the underlying case; I am not familiar with the facts of this particular case.

Re:When your lawyer withdraws, you're probably gui (5, Insightful)

Timesprout (579035) | more than 5 years ago | (#27977821)

the case is an embarrassment to the RIAA and a stern rebuke to their moronic legal theory

I have never expressed any opinion about the underlying case; I am not familiar with the facts of this particular case.

So which is it?

Re:When your lawyer withdraws, you're probably gui (5, Interesting)

NewYorkCountryLawyer (912032) | more than 5 years ago | (#27978171)

the case is an embarrassment to the RIAA and a stern rebuke to their moronic legal theory

I have never expressed any opinion about the underlying case; I am not familiar with the facts of this particular case.

So which is it?

Fair question. Let me clarify.

I have never expressed any opinion about the underlying facts. I.e., I don't know what Ms. Thomas did or didn't do, or what was going on with her computer, etc.

I do know that (a) Jacobson's testimony, upon which plaintiffs' entire case rested, was bogus and inadmissible; (b) the plaintiffs' legal theory, which has now been rejected by the Court, was bogus; (c) plaintiffs have no evidence that defendant was a "distributor'; and (d) their statutory damages theory is unlikely to pass constitutional muster.

Re:When your lawyer withdraws, you're probably gui (1)

Mr. Underbridge (666784) | more than 5 years ago | (#27978471)

I do know that (a) Jacobson's testimony, upon which plaintiffs' entire case rested, was bogus and inadmissible; (b) the plaintiffs' legal theory, which has now been rejected by the Court, was bogus; (c) plaintiffs have no evidence that defendant was a "distributor'; and (d) their statutory damages theory is unlikely to pass constitutional muster.

Given all that, we're back where we started. Strong case, high profile, "evil" opponent - the sort of case many lawyers take pro-bono anyway. When her attorney defended the case as he did, he must have known it was going to last for a while, right?

So that still leaves us with "why did he bail?" I'm not likely to accept "money" as that reason unless her attorney was drop-dead stupid, since he knew her financial situation and how expensive the trial was likely to be.

If that's the case, then we're left with an uncomfortable possibility: namely, that his stated reasons for leaving might be legitimate.

To echo another poster, just because the RIAA is generally wrong doesn't mean that all their opponents are specifically right. It's possible, in fact, that Jammie Thomas is guilty. That's a good reason to be more selective, as a community, in choosing our champions.

Re:When your lawyer withdraws, you're probably gui (3, Insightful)

Fieryphoenix (1161565) | more than 5 years ago | (#27978679)

I care just as much that the RIAA not behave outrageously towards guilty defendants as for innocents. If a tactic or procedure is not kosher, it's not kosher no matter who's in the box.

Re:When your lawyer withdraws, you're probably gui (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27979209)

It is possible. It also is possible that at some point near the beginning of this whole mess, he felt differently about things. Maybe he thought cases like this could end up profitable should he win, and file a civil suit in retaliation.

You really never can tell what a lawyer is thinking. Regardless - even if it was something that was a boon against his character or moral compass.. He would never admit it. A lawyer's future rests on his credibility and trust.

Re:When your lawyer withdraws, you're probably gui (1)

DMalic (1118167) | more than 5 years ago | (#27979377)

I think it's fairly obvious Jammie Thomas is guilty. That's why the jury voted her down in the first place - and, more importantly, that's why the RIAA chose to push this case to trial (rather than one of the ones they dropped). However, they are also using it to push the "making available" offense and gigantic statuatory damages which I find revolting. (I also point to the hilarious ineptitude of their expert witness..) I would have no problem with a legitimate prosecution of Thomas if it weren't for these factors, and I don't think Beckerman would either.

Re:When your lawyer withdraws, you're probably gui (2, Informative)

edward2020 (985450) | more than 5 years ago | (#27979987)

Nope - not guilty. Perhaps liable.

You do know the difference between criminal and civil law, don't you?

Re:When your lawyer withdraws, you're probably gui (1, Funny)

cliffski (65094) | more than 5 years ago | (#27977871)

Wow.
You really think anyone who doesn't spit and curse at the RIAA whilst declaring Jammie Thomas to be innocent is a troll?
Is that how you fight court battles?
"I'm not responding to the prosecutor because I suspect they are a troll".

Re:When your lawyer withdraws, you're probably gui (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27977911)

Oops, you forgot to post as AC that time.

Re:When your lawyer withdraws, you're probably gui (1)

vivaelamor (1418031) | more than 5 years ago | (#27977979)

Yeah, because someone posting conflicted views on a subject as AC while declaring themselves not to be a troll is definitely genuine. Plus, uh.. he did respond?

Re:When your lawyer withdraws, you're probably gui (4, Interesting)

Lloyd_Bryant (73136) | more than 5 years ago | (#27977791)

Ray, I'm curious why you haven't said much at all as to why her lawyer might be withdrawing from the case. Aside from your customary, thinly-veiled swipes at the plaintiffs, I don't see anything addressing this. If her case is as strong as you have been implying consistently in your comments over the past months (and I think I've read every single one of them), it certainly seems odd that an attorney would bail on a slam-dunk case like this one. Surely there has to be another (more objective) explanation or two?

Not NYCL (and IANAL to boot), but I don't think this case is a "slam-dunk". Yes, the judge messed up big time with that jury instruction, and with a binding precedent that the plaintiff must show actual distribution (as opposed to "making available"), the RIAA's case doesn't look all the rosy. But there's still one issue that I don't believe has been resolved - do the downloads made by MediaSentry (under whatever name they're using this week) constitute unlawful distribution? Because that is the *only* distribution that the RIAA's goon squad can actually prove, and there's some case law that seems to say that the distribution has to be to the public, and distribution to agents of the copyright holder don't count.

Re:When your lawyer withdraws, you're probably gui (3, Insightful)

KillerBob (217953) | more than 5 years ago | (#27977947)

do the downloads made by MediaSentry (under whatever name they're using this week) constitute unlawful distribution?

MediaSentry is an unlicensed investigator. As such, any evidence they gained is inadmissable.

Re:When your lawyer withdraws, you're probably gui (1)

Lloyd_Bryant (73136) | more than 5 years ago | (#27977995)

MediaSentry is an unlicensed investigator. As such, any evidence they gained is inadmissable.

Tell it to da judge. The case against Jammie Thomas is based *solely* upon the "evidence" provided by MediaSentry. Yeah, they have a hard drive, with songs on it, but there's no proof that these were offered for upload except for MediaSentry's word.

I'm not sure if this was even argued by her attorney...

Re:When your lawyer withdraws, you're probably gui (1)

shentino (1139071) | more than 5 years ago | (#27979347)

Only if an objection to that effect is made...or the judge is gracious enough to blow the whistle on it.

If she fails to object on those grounds:

1. The evidence gets to come in
2. She cannot even appeal based on that, because by failing to object she waived her rights.

IANAL, but I'm pretty sure that's the way it works out.

Citations, please (1)

westlake (615356) | more than 5 years ago | (#27979421)

MediaSentry is an unlicensed investigator. As such, any evidence they gained is inadmissable.

In a civil case?

In this jurisdiction?

The trial judge would seem to disagree.

Re:When your lawyer withdraws, you're probably gui (1)

Meneth (872868) | more than 5 years ago | (#27977901)

Reading the Toder memorandum, it seems that Jamie's lawyer isn't getting paid.

The settlement attempts failed. A trial date looms. Defendant's counsel has been working as the Court has ordered, having expended thus far $129,485 of uncompensated-for time that will never be recovered, coupled with the likelihood that a similar, additional amount will be incurred if ordered to continue representation of defendant who originally caused this firm by means of false representations.

Re:When your lawyer withdraws, you're probably gui (4, Insightful)

NewYorkCountryLawyer (912032) | more than 5 years ago | (#27978237)

Reading the Toder memorandum, it seems that Ja[m]mie's lawyer isn't getting paid.

That's what it's all about. Most lawyers, like most other people, don't like to work if they're not getting paid for it (unless that's what they agreed to do, which he didn't). Lawyers like anyone else have families to support and bills to be paid.

Re:When your lawyer withdraws, you're probably gui (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27978923)

Don't you look at a client before you take a case to begin with and decide whether they'll be able to pay you? It should have been obvious that Ms. Thomas could not pay $130k in legal fees, why would the lawyer agree to take her as a client if he knew that's what his fees would end up running?

Re:When your lawyer withdraws, you're probably gui (1, Insightful)

cliffski (65094) | more than 5 years ago | (#27977857)

or maybe she is guilty as hell, her lawyer knows it, and didn't want to fight a battle he would inevitably lose badly?

But no, as she is being prosecuted by the record companies, she MUST be innocent right?

Amazing though it sounds, a lot of people DO pirate music, some of them get caught, and a very few of them are stupid enough to try and feign innocence in that situation.

Lawyer is not being paid (1)

Mathinker (909784) | more than 5 years ago | (#27978065)

The lawyer wants to cut his losses at this point.

This is independent of whether Jammie is guilty of the heinous tort of copyright infringement of 24 songs, for which RIAA was happy to have her fined $222,000. (And yes, I added that tidbit just to bait you.)

AC needs you to get your ass behind a proxy! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27977441)

1. http://www.partyvan.eu/static/low_orbit_ion_cannon.html
2. Target riaa.com
3. Imma chargin mah lazer
4. ???
5. Shit bricks

With all due respect, what's the problem? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27977469)

I hate to sound like the devil's advocate, but she agreed to let her lawyers go and (by the OP's own words and the PDF linked) waived any hearings on this matter.
Whatever the reason might be for her (now former) lawyers to leave, she's doing a bang-up job of screwing herself up on her own.

On a side note, this little diatribe on your page:

[Ed. note. Coming from any other attorneys in the world, it would be beyond belief that the plaintiffs' attorneys would object to a continuance. Only RIAA lawyers would do that. I predict that the judge will grant Ms. Thomas a reasonable continuance notwithstanding the RIAA's objection. To you law students and young lawyers out there, the RIAA's refusal to permit a reasonable continuance in a situation like this is not acceptable behavior by an attorney at law. Were I the judge I would impose Rule 11 sanctions. -R.B.]

That's bullshit. You may think this way, but as an attorney acting in your client's best interests, you will use all the legal means at your disposal to win the case. If this means 'inconveniencing' the defendant, so be it, specially when the defendant is happy to assist in hamstringing their own case.

Re:With all due respect, what's the problem? (1)

MathFox (686808) | more than 5 years ago | (#27977565)

That's bullshit. You may think this way, but as an attorney acting in your client's best interests, you will use all the legal means at your disposal to win the case. If this means 'inconveniencing' the defendant, so be it, specially when the defendant is happy to assist in hamstringing their own case.

You sound like a RIAA lawyer and don't seem to realise what agent of the court implies. Lawyers are expected to ensure that the trial is fair above presenting their client's case in the best light. This works both ways, a defendant has all right to defend itself against the plaintiff's allegations.

Going in a bit more detail, why did the RIAA lawyers push the jury instruction that caused the judge to declare a mistrial?

Re:With all due respect, what's the problem? (1)

Jophiel04 (1341463) | more than 5 years ago | (#27977573)

Acting in your client's best interests may indeed mean protesting a continuance, but most general norms of decency would see it a little differently.

If the reason for her lawyer's withdrawal is her inability to pay, then she is not likely to find alternative counsel even with a continuance. In that case, protesting the continuance, is a no-win situation for the RIAA, and only generates further bad press. No average person can reasonably be assumed capable of defending themselves without a lawyer, so again, no additional threat even if she has more time to prepare.

Your question is about what's the problem with what the RIAA is doing, my question is rather, what's the harm to them in letting her look for another lawyer given the most likely reason for the current one withdrawing?

Re:With all due respect, what's the problem? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27977619)

Your question is about what's the problem with what the RIAA is doing, my question is rather, what's the harm to them in letting her look for another lawyer given the most likely reason for the current one withdrawing?

Their lawyers cost money too, you know? Maybe having this case going on for 3 years [justia.com] is a bit much, and they want to get this done and over?

Re:With all due respect, what's the problem? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27978033)

You may think this way, but as an attorney acting in your client's best interests, you will use all the legal means at your disposal to win the case.If this means 'inconveniencing' the defendant, so be it, specially when the defendant is happy to assist in hamstringing their own case.

Actions that may result in a retrial/mistrial definately are not in the client's best interest.

Re:With all due respect, what's the problem? (1)

stonewallred (1465497) | more than 5 years ago | (#27978505)

there is the possibility the lawyer told her not to object to his leaving and that he would waive/slash her bill. Just to get moving down the road. Plus, IANAA, but can't he write off her non-payment against his total income?

What a stupid bitch. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27977549)

That'll teach her for downloading those Justin Timberlake mp3s!

I'm fuzzy on the "justice" angle here (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27977601)

Would it be adequate "justice" to simply shoot the RIAA lawyers outright?

Or would it be more "just" to torture them first, in line with Bush's preferences?

This is such a complex subject, some good legal advice would be really useful!

 

 

 

 

 

 

;-) <--- [laughter track for the humor-impaired and legally non-sentient]

Step up NYCL, our superhero:) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27977609)

Seems like the case is waiting for our superhero, NYCL, to step in and save the day :)

Re:Step up NYCL, our superhero:) (1)

DamienNightbane (768702) | more than 5 years ago | (#27979319)

Frank Castle would be a better option in my opinion.

But... she's got a case, doesn't she? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27977621)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jammie_Thomas

"A hard drive containing the copyrighted songs was never presented at the trial."

"The judge in Thomas' trial ordered a retrial because recent case law has cast doubt on the theory of "making available" as sufficient for infringement."

where's the support from slashdot? (4, Insightful)

rastoboy29 (807168) | more than 5 years ago | (#27977629)

You know, for all the vitriol on this board, it seems surprising to me that money isn't overflowing this nice lady's coffers for lawyers.

Re:where's the support from slashdot? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27977711)

1. How can I be sure I'm sending the money to her and not some random Internet chump trying to make a buck?

2. In what form would she prefer to receive the money?

3. Where does she want the money sent?

If I can get an accurate answer to those three, I'm good for a C-note toward this.

Re:where's the support from slashdot? (2, Insightful)

ortholattice (175065) | more than 5 years ago | (#27979041)

1. How can I be sure I'm sending the money to her and not some random Internet chump trying to make a buck?

2. In what form would she prefer to receive the money?

3. Where does she want the money sent?

If I can get an accurate answer to those three, I'm good for a C-note toward this.

4. Does she provide a verifiable accounting of the money received? Once her coffers overflow, good for her, but then my money might be better spent on another worthy cause.

Re:where's the support from slashdot? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27977721)

Hey rastoboyyyyyyyyyyyy, I just sent $100.00 to the R.I.A.A..

How much did you send?

Re:where's the support from slashdot? (4, Insightful)

goffster (1104287) | more than 5 years ago | (#27977943)

Maybe because no one particular feels like supporting someone who, apparently, is
"guilty as charged".

The facts of this case are very hard to dispute. If you read the comments of the jury, the outcome of the case is not in doubt.

I think people are far more likely to support someone who might, actually, not be guilty, or is having their rights trounced upon.

Re:where's the support from slashdot? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27978961)

Why? Her case appears horrible, based on the concepts of lying to the jury and assuming they are too dumb to figure it out combined with splitting hairs. The arguments we want to make - that copyright law and damages are horrible the way they are currently written, and need to change so that people don't have their lives ruined for engaging in pretty common behavior - are legislative arguments, not judicial.

Re:where's the support from slashdot? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27979515)

It's not surprising at all. Rats always abandon a sinking ship.

Re:where's the support from slashdot? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27980067)

I'm saving money for my own defense, you insensitive clod!

Put your opinion in a reply, not in summary (-1, Troll)

noidentity (188756) | more than 5 years ago | (#27977723)

The court papers submitted by the lawyer (PDF) also indicated that the RIAA was not opposed to the withdrawal -- i.e. it graciously consented to Ms. Thomas having no legal representation -- but was opposed to any continuance (i.e. the RIAA wants to make sure that Ms. Thomas does not have sufficient time to find other legal representation, or to prepare to handle the trial herself, or to enable new counsel to prepare to handle the trial). Nice of them.

Please, I am not interested in reading someone's blog here, where you select the topic AND give your opinion on it. You select the topic and summarize it, then EVERYONE responds with opinion, commentary, etc. If you have some opinion on the topic, reply like everyone else. It might seem like a minor difference, but it makes a significant difference, and I doubt I'm alone. And if story submitters think it's a minor difference as well, thenthey shouldn't have any problem saving their opinion for a normal comment reply after the story is posted. That is all.

Re:Put your opinion in a reply, not in summary (1)

Shikaku (1129753) | more than 5 years ago | (#27977733)

The opinion in the summary is that of a lawyer.

Re:Put your opinion in a reply, not in summary (4, Informative)

NewYorkCountryLawyer (912032) | more than 5 years ago | (#27977749)

If you have some opinion on the topic, reply like everyone else.

Usually I just report facts. Occasionally I put in an opinion, clearly identifiable as such. The Slashdot editors would take it out, or reject the story altogether, if they found it inappropriate. If you find it inappropriate, sorry.

Re:Put your opinion in a reply, not in summary (1)

forgot_my_username (1553781) | more than 5 years ago | (#27979355)

Usually I just report facts. Occasionally I put in an opinion, clearly identifiable as such. The Slashdot editors would take it out, or reject the story altogether, if they found it inappropriate. If you find it inappropriate, sorry.

You must be new here!


HAHAHHA.... just joking...

and no, I am not new here.. but I have a shiny new username :P


--
Sig file Sig File we dont need no stinkin' sig file!
Emmanuel
erefinancing.org [erefinancing.org]

opinion in the summary (1)

rs232 (849320) | more than 5 years ago | (#27977831)

Please, I am not interested in reading someone's blog here, where you select the topic AND give your opinion on it. You select the topic and summarize it, then EVERYONE responds with opinion, commentary, etc

Is any of the following untrue; a) the lawyer wants to withdraw, b) persuaded Thomson to sign a declaration that she wouldn't object, c) the lawyer published such declaration, d) Thomson is now without legal counsel, e) the RIAA is opposed to continuance, f) Thomson has insufficient time in acquiring new counsel and preparing a case and g) therefore will most probably have to go into court against the RIAA without legal representation.

I rest my case, your Honor

Re:opinion in the summary (1)

noidentity (188756) | more than 5 years ago | (#27977923)

I included enough to establish context. You left out the sarcastic ending, "nice of them". Had I simply quoted that last sentence, it wouldn't have been clear how it meshed with the rest.

I get the idea that I should have saved this criticism for a less-well-known submitter who isn't put on a podium by moderators. I really appreciate having NewYorkCountryLawyer as a contributor to Slashdot, but I wasn't going to play favorites when criticising a common practice in article summaries.

NewYorkCountryLawyer does have a point that I really should criticize the editors, as they are the ultimate gatekeepers. So in retrospect, I apologize for the criticism and hope to better target it in the future.

Re:opinion in the summary (4, Informative)

NewYorkCountryLawyer (912032) | more than 5 years ago | (#27978225)

I included enough to establish context. You left out the sarcastic ending, "nice of them". Had I simply quoted that last sentence, it wouldn't have been clear how it meshed with the rest. I get the idea that I should have saved this criticism for a less-well-known submitter who isn't put on a podium by moderators. I really appreciate having NewYorkCountryLawyer as a contributor to Slashdot, but I wasn't going to play favorites when criticising a common practice in article summaries. NewYorkCountryLawyer does have a point that I really should criticize the editors, as they are the ultimate gatekeepers. So in retrospect, I apologize for the criticism and hope to better target it in the future.

It doesn't matter how "well-known" I am, or in what regard I am held. If I was wrong I was wrong. Maybe it wasn't the apex of journalism to throw in my comment "Nice of them"; but it was hard for me to resist after explaining that the RIAA's position was:

1. OK for her to have no lawyer to help her.
2. Not OK for her to be able to (a) find a new lawyer, (b) give her new lawyer enough time to prepare, or (c) if she can't find a lawyer, for her to prepare.
3. ????
4. Profit!

After all, I have to have some fun, too.

Re:opinion in the summary (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27978899)

Does that really need the ??? step?

Re:opinion in the summary (1)

mundanetechnomancer (1343739) | more than 5 years ago | (#27980255)

that's the part where they extract blood from a stone

Re:opinion in the summary (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27979537)

Yeah, except that "fun" is astroturfing and trolling, for which points are scored and people look the other way only because you're preaching to the choir. All of your submissions just link back to a nicely revenue-generating blog, rather than directly to primary sources, and take highly unprofessional cracks at issues more complex than you lead others to believe.

Just because your opponents are a bunch of dicks doesn't mean you should be. For all the good work that is done, it is undone all the more by your sensationalism and laughable claims to present "just the facts". You PRETEND to offer facts when in reality are are advocating an agenda.

Re:Put your opinion in a reply, not in summary (3, Informative)

Hatta (162192) | more than 5 years ago | (#27979483)

Please, I am not interested in reading someone's blog here

Slashdot IS a blog. Maybe you should go somewhere else?

So this is justice in America (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27977883)

Is this the kind of justice we can expect in America? Having your life financially ruined by astronomical damages for copying songs?! How can any sane judge with any sense of justice even allow this to continue?

We all knew stories about backward country with religious zealot wielding harsh laws punishing poor oppressed victim for seemingly trivial offense, but this kind of cases are telling you the America is not that much different, it is just that corporates+money have replaced the religious zealots+dogma.

Lawyers are like arms dealers (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27978233)

They play both sides, and cut their losses and run if things get sour.

Our NYCL makes out to be a good guy (and I'm sure he is personally), but don't get confused by the fact that he's defending "our side" of the battle against the RIAA. He won't do anything that isn't in his business interests either. Ethics don't come into it for lawyers.

So yes, this is the state of "justice" in America. It's a business.

(Worth noting that Europe is somewhat unique in the world in this area. While EU justice is far from perfect, the word "justice" does actually mean something *strong*, and your ability to pay has very little bearing on the process. It's one of the aspects of Europe that has survived with high integrity, amid generally falling standards.)

Re:Lawyers are like arms dealers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27978531)

The Pirate Bay can attest to the value of justice in Europe.

Re:Lawyers are like arms dealers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27978681)

The Pirate Bay can attest to the value of justice in Europe.

It's very rare that judges are overtly corrupt like that, definitely a special case, and he's getting picked apart for it. Even in mafia-ridden EU countries where there is some likelihood of getting killed, the judiciary still usually keeps its head high, despite the occasional death.

More relevantly, how much TPB spent on lawyers would not have affected the outcome much. Justice is simply not a straight function of money out here.

Re:Lawyers are like arms dealers (3, Insightful)

Paradise Pete (33184) | more than 5 years ago | (#27978697)

He won't do anything that isn't in his business interests either. Ethics don't come into it for lawyers.

I don't personally know Mr. Beckerman, but based on what I've I'd say that ethics enters into nearly everything he does.

Re:Lawyers are like arms dealers (1)

Atlantis-Rising (857278) | more than 5 years ago | (#27979527)

I am dubious. He is only 'ethical' in the sense that all the RIAA lawyers I have met are ethical (and I have met about half a dozen); that is they have enough faith in the cause they are defending it to do the best job they can.

The fact that that cause happens to coincide with Slashdot's general groupthink is merely a lucky coincidence.

Re:Lawyers are like arms dealers (2, Insightful)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | more than 5 years ago | (#27980179)

If "the best job they can" is to bring in unlicensed investigators as their only evidence, and use questionable legal theories, and (admittedly) choose to sue housewives and schoolchildren as "examples" in order to "intimidate" others... then yeah, their ethics are very highly questionable, whether you think they are nice guys or not.

Re:Lawyers are like arms dealers (1)

Atlantis-Rising (857278) | more than 5 years ago | (#27980299)

Do you really think that NYCL is any different? I don't. Part of being a lawyer is knowing what lines you can cross and knowing what lines you can't, and then crossing the former for your clients and not crossing the latter.

Re:Lawyers are like arms dealers (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | more than 5 years ago | (#27980369)

"Part of being a lawyer is knowing what lines you can cross and knowing what lines you can't, and then crossing the former for your clients and not crossing the latter."

That statement alone belies any pretention you may have of claiming ethics on the part of anybody. If this is what you claim to be "ethical" lawyer behavior, no wonder you think they are all corrupt.

Re:So this is justice in America (5, Informative)

NewYorkCountryLawyer (912032) | more than 5 years ago | (#27978259)

Is this the kind of justice we can expect in America? Having your life financially ruined by astronomical damages for copying songs?! How can any sane judge with any sense of justice even allow this to continue?

This particular judge seems to be aware of the problem. On September 24, 2008, he wrote [blogspot.com] :

"The Court would be remiss if it did not take this opportunity to implore Congress to amend the Copyright Act to address liability and damages in peer to peer network cases.... The defendant is an individual, a consumer. She is not a business. She sought no profit from her acts..... [T]he damages awarded in this case are wholly disproportionate to the damages suffered by Plaintiffs."

Re:So this is justice in America (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27978269)

Having your life financially ruined by astronomical damages for copying songs?!

So don't copy songs if you cannot afford the damages. Copying songs is not necessary to one's life.

Re:So this is justice in America (1)

Ginger Unicorn (952287) | more than 5 years ago | (#27978365)

Neither was riding at the front of the bus [wikipedia.org] .

Re:So this is justice in America (1)

theascended (1228810) | more than 5 years ago | (#27978573)

Rosa Parks' argument was that she was no less a human being than the nice white people who got to sit at the front and that no matter how you argue separate is not equal which therefore gave her the same natural right to sit at the front of the bus as the WASPs.

Are you intending to argue that listening to music that was produced by someone else (at a cost to the producer) is an inherent natural right of human beings and therefore downloading it (without compensation to the producer) constitutes no moral or ethical injustice?

If you're a programmer, have any juicy source code for me to look at?

Re:So this is justice in America (1)

twidarkling (1537077) | more than 5 years ago | (#27979339)

Are you intending to argue that listening to music that was produced by someone else (at a cost to the producer) is an inherent natural right of human beings and therefore downloading it (without compensation to the producer) constitutes no moral or ethical injustice?
 

I don't know what their intent was, but I venture the guess that it was more along the lines of "an individual has the right to not have his/her life destroyed beyond repair by a corporation." 3 years and 100k debt for this trial. It's a civil case, and damages against an individual should be both proportionate to the infraction and their means to make reparations. There's no call to be asking $200,000 for fewer than 50 songs when they can't prove they lost that much.

Re:So this is justice in America (4, Insightful)

NormalVisual (565491) | more than 5 years ago | (#27979547)

Are you intending to argue that listening to music that was produced by someone else (at a cost to the producer) is an inherent natural right of human beings and therefore downloading it (without compensation to the producer) constitutes no moral or ethical injustice?

I will.

The way it's supposed to work (in the US, anyway) is that when someone creates a work, it's owned by society. However, understanding that people need to eat, they're given an exclusive right to distribute what they create for a *limited* time, the idea being that it will encourage them to keep creating new works, but that the work will revert back to society where it will enrich the cultural pool. Problem is, the whole concept of "limited time" is now one of a mere technicality, as copyright terms extend well beyond the length of the author's lifetime. Apparently, as long as Congress doesn't define the term of copyright as "forever", it's not considered to be at odds with the intent of the Constitution. This is ridiculous.

Distributing a tune recorded by Britney Spears should probably be considered copyright infringement. All of her "work" is recent, and she probably should expect to have at least a few more years of copyright to profit from. Distributing a tune recorded by the Beatles most definitely should not. In the 45 or so years since their songs were recorded, not only have they recouped their production costs, but all four members became fabulously wealthy as a result. There is/was no further need to provide the financial incentive to create for them (especially since half are dead now), and continuing to grant copyright on their works has now become a very real theft (in the literal sense) from society.

Re:So this is justice in America (2, Insightful)

mpe (36238) | more than 5 years ago | (#27980259)

The way it's supposed to work (in the US, anyway) is that when someone creates a work, it's owned by society. However, understanding that people need to eat, they're given an exclusive right to distribute what they create for a *limited* time, the idea being that it will encourage them to keep creating new works, but that the work will revert back to society where it will enrich the cultural pool. Problem is, the whole concept of "limited time" is now one of a mere technicality, as copyright terms extend well beyond the length of the author's lifetime.

Which may well have the opposite effect. Whereas if the copyright term were for a moderate period of time (5-10 years) they would actually have a reason to continue to produce new works.

Re:So this is justice in America (2, Insightful)

Dun Malg (230075) | more than 5 years ago | (#27979187)

So don't copy songs if you cannot afford the damages. Copying songs is not necessary to one's life.

That's a separate issue. Even if nobody ever violated this law, the damages allowable under the law are still utterly ridiculous. Bad law is bad law, and bad law needs to be changed.

Donation site (4, Insightful)

debrain (29228) | more than 5 years ago | (#27978379)

Why doesn't Ms. Thomas set up a legal fund donation page via PayPal, for example? I'd contribute some funds to this cause. It deserves attention.

Has she sought legal aid? Or the support of the ACLU, EFF or a law school? Her time is running short. This is an unfortunate situation because the likelihood of setting an important precedent very favourable to the RIAA is quite high, now.

Public defenders (2, Insightful)

Jimmy_B (129296) | more than 5 years ago | (#27979179)

Individuals defending against lawsuits from corporations should be given public defenders. The only reason that right isn't in the Constitution is because corporations didn't exist at the time it was written.

So, NYCL, going to do some pro bono? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27979955)

Or are you going to admit that you're just in it for the fees and use Slashdot as a publicity arm?

We know that by day you work for an IP protection firm, after all.

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